Saturday, March 28, 2009

Put Fun back into parenting

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Put fun back into parenting

Sense of humor can diffuse many arguments

Karen Mahoney
Special to Parenting

Your daughter refuses to get dressed for school in the morning. Your son won't do his homework. Both have started to mouth off at you or throw tantrums.

And so, the battle of wills begins for many parents.

But, a sense of humor can act as a lubricant to ease the flow of family life.

It helps to remind us of our humanity with all of our limitations. It encourages us not to sweat the small stuff and to squash the big stuff.

Humor reminds us to have a perspective about life that keeps things properly prioritized. It allows us to see the forest in the midst of dealing with each tree. Paul Gasser, a marriage and family therapist at the Mile Bluff Medical Center in Mauston believes that it is possible to put the fun back into parenting and to actually enjoy your kids.

"I think most parents have a difficult time setting appropriate boundaries and limits with their kids," he said. "They have a hard time dealing with things like arguing and defiance and later on that leads to accountability. If you can't hold kids accountable then why in the world would they ever ask Jesus into their life and follow the Catholic faith because there is no accountability."

Parents must regain control

According to Gasser, one of the most discouraging aspects of parenting is dealing with noncompliance issues. Adults may feel as if they have lost all control with their kids and become embarrassed by the unsuccessful methods they have used to get the control back.

Generally, control battles take on a form of the following:

First Stage: Judy, please pick up your books. Please come for lunch.

Second Stage: The child or teen can respond with either a Yes or No response.

Third Stage: If the child or teen doesn't comply with the command the first time, the adult will often become trapped into the Repeat Stage. This is when the adult continues to remind the child or teen repeatedly.

Fourth Stage: After repeatedly making this request most adults will become frustrated. Both the volume of their voice and the style of their interactions will change. The adult will now move into the Reactive Stage, such as becoming angry, lecturing or reasoning with the child or teen, using threats or giving warnings.

Further exacerbating the problem for the parents is the question: What if they do all of these things and the child still has not complied?

Try one-liners over reason

To regain control Gasser lightheartedly advises parents to "Go brain dead."

"There is nothing wrong with a kid that a little reasoning won't make worse," he said, adding, "Never attempt to reason with a child that wants to argue.

Reasoning and logic will not work in these situations because the child is playing by a different set of rules than you are. He is not interested in facts and logic. He is interested in getting his way and seeing you give it to him."

Gasser suggests choosing a love and logic "one-liner" antidote in lieu of reasoning.

"Consider using terms such as: 'I love you too much to argue,' 'I bet it feels that way some times,' 'This sounds like an argument,' 'Let's talk about it later,'" he said. "Become a broken record, saying the same antidote for each new argument the youngster comes up with. Keep your voice soft. Allow any frustration to be that of the child, not you."

Gasser recommends telling strong willed or manipulative children, "I argue when I am relaxed." Or "I argue when things are peaceful in the house."

Successful parents avoid control battles by locking in empathy by utilizing detachment statements they have created ahead of time to deal with chronic issues such as whining, tantrums and arguing.

"In order to avoid further enabling of the child, the adult, in a compassionate way, avoids arguing with the child by using their prepared detachment statements," said Gasser. "This hands the problem back to the child in a loving, empathetic way. It's important the adult remains loving and empathetic and not mean, as they will decide the adult is the source of their problems. The goal is to provide this child with the opportunity to learn how their behavior will affect them and their quality of life."

Detachment statements stop control battles

Using detachment statements to tell kids what the parent will do eliminates the trap of trying to control something they are unable to do. Children will look at the parent and reason that the adult always follows through with what they say, and it might be wise to listen to them.

Quick detachment statements to stop control battles:

"How sad."



"Oh, oh"


"Oh wow"

In another behavioral intervention, Gasser suggests using enforceable statements to achieve the desired results. Simple comments such as,

"I will be starting dinner just as soon as you pick up your coat and put your shoes away."

"I will be driving you to your football practice just as soon as you have finished your chores."

"I will be buying soda and other sweets just as soon as I don't have to worry about you brushing your teeth."

"I'll be happy to do the extra things I do for you when you're talking to me in a sweet voice."

Try delayed consequences

Each child and each situation are unique and opportunities arise which can throw even the best parent off track, so oftentimes Gasser implements what he calls a delayed consequence strategy.

"Using a delayed consequence allows time for the parent to think over how he or she might want to handle a certain situation," he said. "The time also allows the parent to determine if he or she can actually follow through with the consequence and whose support is needed so that the holes are plugged."

As a parent of four children ages 21, 19-year-old twins and a 17-year-old, Gasser believes his techniques saved his marriage in many ways.

"A key thing we often talked about was not only the gift from God that was given to us, but also how do we wind up maintaining a solid marital relationship with kids," he said. "Kids need to see us model a healthy marriage and relationship. If they don't see it in us, we don't see it either and will exhibit poor parenting skills - and then you have problems."

Gasser quoted Genesis 2:24, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. If the two are not united and if they don't set good boundaries, marriages will be affected and the relationships will die of loneliness."

"God commands us to focus our attention on our mates and our kids will model what we have been doing," he said.

Use consistent parenting techniques

With consistent parenting techniques, parents can become more effective, and will have more time to enjoy their role as parents.

"A lot of parents don't have good parenting skills because they were not raised with them," admitted Gasser. "In defense of them, a lot of materials on bookshelves are not helpful to them. When I read some of the things in parenting magazines, I say to myself, 'Good Lord, no wonder you have problems.'"

The number one mistake parents make? Counting down with warnings when their children exhibit bad behavior.

"A little girl was behind us in Mass one Sunday, standing in the pew and holding her dress up so we could see her underwear. Her mom told her to stop that and began to count one, two and then my daughter came over to me and said, 'Don't make me say three,'" he said, laughing. "Those things are pretty ineffective. Parents get into telling their kids three and four times to do things. Later on, most employers don't groom on that - if you get to a third time, the employer will give you a new lease on life."

Conscience Clause Affects Local Physicians

Dr. Eric Nelson, an anesthesiologist at St. Luke’s Hospital, Milwaukee and his wife, Suzanne, believe that removing the conscience clause, which protects Eric from participating in any procedure that violates his Catholic principles, is unacceptable. Eric and Suzanne are pictured with their children, from left to right, Sarah, 13, Emily, 14, Simon, 8, Ben, 12 and 23-month-old Margaret, who sits on Suzanne’s lap. (Catholic Herald photo by Matt Dixon)
How to get involved
Comments regarding the HHS proposal may be submitted electronically on the Web site (by entering 0991-AB49 in the search box) or via e-mail to

By mail, one original and two copies of written comments may be sent to: Office of Public Health and Science, Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: Rescission Proposal Comments, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Ave. SW, Room 716G, Washington, DC 20201.
Conscience clause affects local physicians

Change proposed by Obama opposed by bishops

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

When Dr. Eric Nelson, an anesthesiologist at St. Luke's Hospital, was in residence at Rush Presbyterian Hospital in Chicago from 1992 to 1995, he was often concerned that he might be called to assist with questionable surgical procedures dealing with the sanctity of human life.

He and other health care workers frequently consulted with priests in the area about the subject of abortion, but they were told that as long as they were not directly performing the abortion, they should not to be worried about their participation in it.

"It just didn't sit right with me," Nelson said. "It felt like a lot of misinformation, and it seemed as if everyone was afraid to take a stand and that it was easy to find a priest who would tell you what you wanted to hear."

Struggling with his Catholic faith, conscience and his profession as a new doctor, he found comfort in the advice from a priest friend from Michigan who presided at his wedding to wife Suzanne in 1983. He guided him in making his decision.

"He was a wonderful, no-nonsense and by-the-book Catholic," said Nelson, a member of Holy Family Parish, Whitefish Bay. "He told me that I was not to participate in any procedure that was involved in a loss of life. Period."

Most cases were straightforward and easy to spot as an abortion procedure, or evacuating the products of conception, but some were a bit more difficult to decipher. One day, Nelson was called to the OB floor at Rush to assist with a D & C procedure. After reading the woman's chart, he was unable to determine the reason for the scheduled surgery and spoke to a certified registered nurse anesthetist on duty about the procedure.

"I told him that I needed more information before I was comfortable assisting with this case," Nelson said. "I told him that if it was anything to do with an abortion, I didn't want to do it."

The nurse anesthetist agreed with him and told Nelson that his contract contained a conscience clause eliminating him from participating in any procedure that violates his Catholic principles. The doctor immediately put his name on the same list, legally protecting him from discrimination or reprimand from his superiors.

"I talked to my priest in Michigan again and became savvy about checking into things," he said. "I don't always know everything, because it isn't always spelled out in the chart. But I do not knowingly want to participate in any procedure that stems from or leads to the demise of a baby or anyone else."

Under a proposal supported by President Barack Obama and which is being considered by the Department of Health and Human Services, physicians and other health care providers may no longer have the right to conscientiously object to such medical procedures. Obama has asked HHS to rescind a regulation that gives federal protection to the conscience rights of health care providers and institutions. The rule codifies three longtime federal statutes prohibiting discrimination against health professionals who decline to participate in abortions or other medical procedures because of their religious or other moral objections.

Not only does conscientious objection protect doctors and nurses who refuse to perform or assist in abortions, but it also lies in the non-medical service personnel who might be called to help in an abortion facility, such as plumbers, electricians, housekeepers, food service personnel and others who do business there.

While it might be easy to refuse to do businesses with specific abortion providers, many, in fact, may be servicing facilities without realizing that abortions are committed there, such as if the new bill requires abortions to be provided in Catholic hospitals.

Federal law, under Title VII, states, "It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's ... religion," and further indicates that "the term 'religion' includes all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief..."

As Catholics and parents, removing the conscience clause is unacceptable to the Nelsons, who have five children, ages 14, 13, 12, 8, and 23-month-old Margaret, a healthy baby with Down syndrome. While her birth was not what either expected, the most difficult aspect was the cruel comments from others.

"I have had people ask me why my wife didn't have an abortion when they realized Margaret was going to have Down syndrome," Nelson said. "I was just dumbfounded at the reactions; here I was reaching out and hoping for encouragement - I couldn't believe it."

Both have felt the sting of friendships lost due to their pro-life stance, but realize that it is more important to do what is right in God's eyes than preserve friendships that are so callous about the sanctity of human life.

"People will go to great lengths to justify evil and evil behavior. We impose our beliefs on people every day, and the latest is this thing where animals are people too; what is this?" Nelson said. "I agree that we should not be cruel to animals, but at the exclusion of human life? I will never condone inhumane things or torturing animals, but really I can't hear what they say about animals; there are too many babies screaming."

Liturgical Musician took to road, air

(Catholic Herald photo by Karen Mahoney)
People of Faith
Name: Nan Welsh


Occupation: Retired liturgical musician

Parish: St. Patrick, Elkhorn

Favorite movie: "Slumdog Millionaire" and "The Sound of Music"

Book recently read:

"The Other Queen," by Philippa Gregory

Favorite quotation:"I believe in angels, the kind heaven sends. But I am surrounded by angels, I call them friends."

Liturgical musician took to road, air

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

After 56 years as a church organist, cantor and choir director in the Milwaukee Archdiocese, Ellen "Nan" Welsh has played the organ at St. Patrick Parish, Elkhorn, for the last time.

For months, pain and numbness in her hands left playing the piano and organ difficult, so, a few months ago, Welsh, 82, had surgery to correct carpal tunnel syndrome.

"I just decided it was a good time to call it quits," she said. "My hands aren't the best even with the surgery and with my age, it was time."

For decades, Welsh filled St. Patrick and many churches throughout the diocese with traditional Catholic music as well as music from contemporary liturgical composers. Her singing and desire to worship through song tells of her passion for sacred music and the church she loves.

"I did this for the Lord," she said. "I didn't do it for me or for anyone else. I wasn't that trained and often felt like I was a fraud because I hadn't had formal training. I was more of an accompanist and really liked leading the congregation. I remember one time when (Archbishop emeritus) Rembert (Weakland) came down to Twin Lakes where I was playing and was amazed at how the congregation sang. I try to play with feeling and know how the people sing and try to play that way."

Her love of music was scripted almost before she can remember. Her father was a composer and pianist who once wrote and published a song for Marquette University.

"My dad could sit down and play anything if you hummed him a tune," she said. "I learned to read music and play by ear from him. But I never had any formal training, I just decided to teach myself how to play and learned to play piano and all types of organs, even the large pipe organs."

Welsh was baptized at St. Patrick Parish and has been a lifelong member. A daily Mass attendee, she recalled bringing her three boys, Steve, Randy and Gary with her each day and figured that since she was already there, she might as well assist with the music.

"At first it was something for me to do," she said. "And later, I needed the money - although, in the beginning my pay was a cake at Christmas time. Later though, I began to earn a salary for what I did. Playing in church was a good fit for me, I figured that since I was there everyday, I might as well play."

While she began at St. Patrick Parish, her career as liturgical musician spanned the archdiocese. She has also played at St. Peter, East Troy; St. Patrick, Whitewater; St. John the Evangelist, Twin Lakes; St. Francis de Sales, Lake Geneva; St. Benedict, Fontana and St. Frances Cabrini, West Bend to name a few.

On many weekends, Welsh played for the early Mass at St. Patrick and then drove to Milwaukee for another Mass. On some occasions, when the timing was a bit too tight for a drive, she would fly.

"One of my sons is a pilot and after I played a wedding at St. Patrick or a later Mass, he would fly me to Hartford to play for the Mass up there," she said. "I really enjoyed flying and being able to play around so much."

Welsh garnered close friendships with and deep respect from many priests and religious sisters in the archdiocese for her dedication and willingness to learn all aspects of preparing liturgy.

"I think preparing liturgy is what I will miss the most," she said. "I really learned a lot from the priests, sisters, transitional deacons and Capuchins," she said. "I have so many great memories of cooking for them, spending time with them and just learning all that I could."

Welsh played for many weddings and funerals over the years. She said that funerals were often easier than dealing with a few overzealous mothers of the brides.

"Some of those mothers were not easy to get along with," she said, adding, "But with funerals, there is no one to argue with."

Because much of her playing was done before most parishes had air-conditioning, Welsh often left smelling salts on the top of the organ or piano in case a lector, bride or groom felt a bit faint.

"One day, it was almost me that fainted," she said. "I am deathly afraid of spiders and there was this guy lectoring next to me while I was playing on the Cabrini organ in front of the church. There was this spider crawling across the top of the organ and I was really nervous so I whispered it to him while he was up there. As soon as he was done reading, he came over to the organ and wacked the spider very loudly right during Mass. Those were some good times."

Welsh plans to take more time traveling, golfing, reading and spoiling her five grandchildren and one great-granddaughter, Ellen.

"She was named after me, and that was quite a thrill when they did that," she said.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

insomnia stinks

How I hate this.
I am dead tired at 10 p.m. and at times, begin dozing off at 9:30
By 2 a.m. my eyes pop open and I lay there until 3 or so hoping to fall back to sleep.
I can't
So, I get up and try to check email
Do my work.
or anything quiet that won't wake the rest of the household
By 7 a.m. I am ready to go back to bed
But I can't
Total frustration

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Are your ears ringing?

Mine are and they ring all the time. It is getting so bad that I plan to call an ear nose and throat specialist to see if he can help me. The name for this is tinnitus and what I hear is 24 hour a day 7 day a week ringing in my ears. Nothing stops it and loud noises exacerbate it. Nighttime is a real treat as I am forced to sleep with one of those white noise machines playing in the background to drown out the ringing in order for me to sleep. Even with that it is often troublesome to get a full night's sleep.

From what I have learned from the American Tinnitus Association is that I am one of 50 million Americans who experience tinnitus to some degree. Of these, about 12 million have severe enough tinnitus to seek medical attention. And about two million patients are so seriously debilitated that they cannot function on a "normal," day-to-day basis. I am in the second group and really do not want to end up in the latter group.

I'll let you know what I find out--I do know that one of my son's has this same disorder and it drives him so nuts he sleeps with his Ipod on. Not a good way to live.....although it could be worse.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

How to Prevent Kids from Joining Gangs

How to prevent kids from joining gangs

LA Jesuit’s advice rooted in Homeboy Industries’ success

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

RACINE - Drugs, crime, violence and death. These are the cold, true realities of life in a gang. As deadly as these factors seem, many of our children still become involved in gangs. Why? What do gangs offer that is worth risking one's life? To many youths, it comes down to one thing - a sense of belonging.

Jesuit Fr. Gregory Boyle challenged an audience at SC Johnson's Golden Rondelle Theater, Feb. 12, to abolish gangs by creating a community of kinship.

"We need to be obliterating the allusion of the separation of us and them," said Fr. Boyle. "Mother Teresa suggested that all the problems in the world are there because we have just forgotten that we belong to each other. We need to stand against forgetting that. Kinship is tricky - you can blink and miss it even when you don't want to."

Fr. Boyle is an expert in kinship. After founding Homeboy Industries more than 20 years ago in downtown Los Angeles, his ministry has made an impact on former gang members in every ZIP code in the county. While his slogan is "Jobs, not jails," his words are not empty. He invests in people rather than "trying to incarcerate our way out of the problem."

Each day lives are transformed by providing jobs for troubled youth at Homeboy's bakery, Homegirl Café & Catering, Homeboy Maintenance, Homeboy Merchandise, Homeboy Press and Homeboy Silkscreen & Embroidery. Services such as counseling, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, tattoo removal, computer literacy, and help with academic subjects are paramount to giving former gang members something they had never experienced - a sense of hope.

"We need to reach in and dismantle what weighs kids down," Fr. Boyle explained. "No one has ever met a hopeful kid who joined a gang. It has never happened in history. Kids join in the lethal absence of hope. Their account of life is misery and misery loves company. In the LA community, the kids planned their funerals, not their futures. We see so much gangbanging and teenage suicide and we need to reach in and dismantle the messages. It's unfortunate for all of us; the gang issue is not a crime issue, but a community health issue that depends on the diagnosis. If the diagnosis is bad - how can the treatment be good?"

As one of eight children in an Irish Catholic family, Fr. Boyle remembers his mother wanting to keep a few remnants of her past life private. She sternly warned the kids not to go into the attic, but not surprisingly that is the first place they went.

"We sold tickets to the attic," he said, laughing. "We walked on the planks and dug through boxes when my mom was gone. In one old dusty trunk, we found a handwritten label on a record with Mom's name on it. It was a recording of 'O Holy Night' and on that record, we discovered that mom was an opera singer before she had eight kids. We couldn't believe it was the same woman who screamed at us!"

After playing the record until the grooves were nearly worn through, Fr. Boyle began to focus on the words of the song: "Long lay the world in sin and error pining till he appear'd and the soul felt its worth." The words echoing in his soul through adulthood, he began to believe that if he held a mirror to the faces of the troubled gang members that maybe the kids might return to themselves.

During his presentation, sponsored by Sustainable-Racine, he recalled a former Homeboy named Bandit who left the gang life behind, married and had a family. His first daughter was preparing to leave for college, something no member of his family had ever done. They wanted Fr. Boyle to say a prayer over the girl before she left. When he began to pray, each member of the family was reduced to tears and the startled priest wondered why.

"After the prayer, Bandit hung back and I said to him, 'I give you credit for the man you chose to become. I am proud of you.' He said to me, 'I am proud of myself. All my life people called me a low-life, good-for-nothing and I guess I showed them,'" explained Fr. Boyle, adding, "And the soul feels its worth ..."

Week after week, Fr. Boyle celebrates Mass primarily for gang members at downtown Los Angeles juvenile halls and detention facilities. At the end of each Mass, he hands out his business card and invites the youth to contact him when they get out.

"I tell them that I won't know where they are, but with my card, they will know how to reach me," he said. "I tell them we'll take off their tattoos and find them a job right away. It's important to not promote justice, but to celebrate it. Imagine a circle of compassion with no one standing outside the circle. You stand on the outside edges with those on the margins. Stand with the easily despised and readily left out. Stand with those who have burdens more than they can bear. Stand with the demonized so it will stop. Stand with the disposable so a day will come and we will stop throwing people away - especially kids."

Dreamer was a gang member who had been in and out of prison and given at least 94 chances to find a job. According to Fr. Boyle, who knew Dreamer since he was a kid, the cycle was always the same. Get a job, dissolve into criminality and beg for another chance. Finally, Dreamer was serious and contacted the patient priest one more time.

"I called a friend of mine who ran a vending machine company in California. He hired him right away and two weeks later Dreamer came up to me waving his first check. He told me that the check made him feel good," said Fr. Boyle. "He said, 'My mom is proud of me and my kids are not ashamed of me.'"

The stories are all similar. A troubled teen joins a gang to replace the family he doesn't have. Tattooed, angry and miserable, the gang member takes a chance to break from the cycle and Fr. Boyle waits with open arms and offers a job, a way out.

"Of course, to those looking from the outside, they might say it is a waste of a perfectly good job," he said. "But we need to stand against that idea. That is who we are as a people and that is what we hope to be. It's daunting, but if we choose to be enlightened witnesses, they might return to themselves. If we show up, tell the truth, hold the mirror up and tell them that they are exactly what God had in mind when he made them - then watch them inhabit that truth. No bullet can pierce that or four walls of prison can keep that out. We need to do battle with things and those that are saddled with shame and disgrace. It is hard to get out from under it."

Fr. Boyle has buried 166 youth who tried to escape the endless, downward spiral to hopelessness. While each death ripped into his heart, he chooses to focus on the impressive statistics of the thousands who left the life behind for a brighter future. And even sometimes in death, the truth of who they were in God's eyes rose above the sadness.

"That is the truth that no bullet can pierce. There are things much worse than death and not knowing the truth can be one of them," said Fr. Boyle. "We are called to step outside of the margins and create a kingdom they can recognize. People will say that we are wasting our time, but that won't make those voices heard in Wisconsin. A vision has time and it will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it."

20,000 hours of volunteering and counting

20,000 hours of volunteering, and counting

Members carry out Catholic Family Life mission

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

MILWAUKEE - Kathy Zahn can usually find something to do to help - whether it's making a pot of soup for a shut-in, collecting bread for the needy, comforting the grieving, even sending birthday cards to fellow seniors.

"As long as I have a potato in my pot, the good Lord provides," said Zahn, 77, member of Blessed Savior Parish. "I just find pure joy by giving and being with people."

Widowed 23 years ago, Zahn was left to parent eight daughters alone, but had already established a practice of giving to others, a choice that carried her through the loneliness after her husband died.

"As soon as I had kids, I decided to get involved and swore I would not sit around at home doing nothing," she said. "I needed an activity outside of diapering, staying home and sewing. I began by hiring a babysitter and becoming a Girl Scout leader and was an active leader for more than 20 years."

Her list of volunteer activities is impressive; Zahn not only established the bread ministry, and served as a Scout leader, but is active with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Blessed Savior Human Concerns committee, Crossroads Interfaith ministry, sunshine ministry and the Parish Prayer chain.

Through sharing her time, talent and treasures, Zahn not only shines as an example of Catholic Family Life Insurance's (CFLI) mission of Catholics helping Catholics, but has developed lifelong friends as a result.

"As my girls left home and I was down to the last three, I remember feeling so happy that I had this good circle of friends and activities that kept me busy," she admitted.

Although her volunteer schedule keeps her busy, she also finds time to help Catholic Family whenever possible, because after 50 years of membership, she said the company seems like family to her.

"I remember we started a block watch in our neighborhood in Milwaukee one year," she said "Children who needed a safe haven to run to could see the red house in someone's window and know that they would be OK."

When the local public television station needed volunteers for its annual auction, Zahn was frequently one of the friendly voices on the other end of the phone.

"I really liked doing that; it is such a great family to be part of," she said. "I just hope I can keep doing what I am doing and pray that the Lord will let me."

Jerry Vogel feels the same, and is hopeful he will be able to continue volunteering for many more years.

At 81, Vogel, a member of St. John the Baptist Parish in Jefferson in the Madison Diocese, is on his fifth car since he began volunteering as a driver for the Jefferson County Human Services in 1990. Like Zahn, his efforts recently earned him the Bishop John Martin Henni Award for more than 10,000 hours of volunteer service.

Established in 1999, the Archbishop John Martin Henni Founders Award honors Catholic Family volunteers who have logged 10,000 or more hours in their lifetime. This is the highest award a CFLI member can earn in the society's Volunteer Recognition Program. To date, 28 out of Catholic Family's 2,024 active reporting volunteers have earned the award.

"I drive people to the doctor's office and to the hospital for dialysis and other treatments," he said. "I also drive people who are on the hard side of life and bring them to counseling appointments at the human services office."

Providing more than simply a mode of transportation, Vogel lends a listening ear and offers friendship to the hundreds of riders he transports five days a week, year after year. His transports often take him as far away as Madison and encompass much of the day.

"It is a huge commitment," he acknowledged. "But it makes me feel good inside. I like to drive and like being able to do something for others."

The majority of his transports are non-drivers who have either lost their spouses, are ill or handicapped. All are extremely grateful for Vogel's ministry.

"Oh, the majority of people are so thankful for the ride and really nice," he said. "Oh, you get a couple of grumps, but that doesn't matter. I am just here to help."

His value as a volunteer driver was probably not as apparent to Vogel until the day he required extra help during his recovery from double knee surgery a couple of years ago.

"One day, when I needed to go to therapy, I asked my fellow driver to take me to therapy because my wife had something going on and couldn't take me," he said. "So even I had to depend on a ride. I know I hate to think about the day I have to give up my license because I drive all over the place."

While he didn't begin volunteering because of Catholic Family Life, he appreciates knowing that the company embodies what is already in his heart - stewardship.

"They are very encouraging of whatever we do," he said. "It's apparent because they honor us for it."

Guardian Angel Program offers Prayers

Guardian Angel program offers 'special' protection

Other member benefits include scholarships, events

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

Angel of God, My Guardian Dear To whom God's love commits me here. Ever this day be at my side To light and guard and rule and guide. Amen.

Catholic tradition states that guardian angels are appointed to children at their birth, given to them by God and ordained to be their guardian to protect them each day of their lives.

While he doesn't fit the ethereal description of a fair haired, blue-eyed, winged, heavenly messenger, Bruce Bultman is a guardian angel just the same. As secretary/treasurer of the Milwaukee chapter of Catholic Family Life Insurance (CFLI), he has prayed for hundreds of babies as part of the Guardian Angel Prayer Network.

"I have done this for the past 10 years and really enjoy it," he said, explaining. "I think of it as kind of a magnet concept in that there are pluses and minuses. Sometimes people need prayers and draw on that power and they are receiving that energy. The prayers are energizing and they come back and energize us. We can't see the magnetism in thin air, but it's there - you can feel it."

Each quarter, chapter members receive a list of new babies enrolled in the Guardian Angel Program and pledge to pray for the children's welfare for the first five years of life.

The family receives a certificate commemorating the child's baptism and the members of the prayer network receive a guardian angel pin as a symbol of their spiritual guidance.

With Catholic Family's dedication to the unborn and young life, praying for children is another way to strengthen the faith, said Bultman.

"We always pray the Guardian Angel prayer and the Hail Mary for the babies when we have our meetings," he said. "It is a good first start for these kids and a blessing for us to pray for them."

While he has never met any of the babies for whom he prays, Bultman knows that they have made a difference. Volunteering as a guardian angel is one of many ways he gives back to his community as a member of CFLI.

In addition to the Guardian Angel Program, CFLI offers members-only benefits such as scholarships, a prescription discount plan, first Communion benefits, society outings and travel opportunities and the summer camp and retreat programs.

According to Joe Gadbois, vice president for fraternal services and marketing, the annual camp is celebrating its 40th year this July.

"Annually, 300 or so members travel to Columbus, Wis.," he said. "We have talent shows, outdoor Mass, horseshoes, ice cream floats, children's games, a costume parade and so much more that we might seem a throwback to earlier times. But we are now having the children of the original campers now coming with their children. It's great to see generations passing on the Catholic Family legacy."

Continuing their mission to reach out to other Catholics, each chapter decides where they want to send their donations and volunteer their time. The chapter members are the soul of the organization. With support from the society and local advisors, volunteer chapter officers help members carry out social, civic, charitable and religious activities throughout the year.

Membership in CFLI supports volunteer efforts in the various chapters to better their communities and assist local parishes and schools.

For years, the Milwaukee chapter has donated to Wisconsin Right to Life and other pro-life organizations. It also supports children with cleft lips and palate through Smile Train, the international charity providing free surgery to children around the world.

Additionally, Bultman and other members help the poor in the city with needed funds, and their ministry of presence.

"Our Milwaukee chapter has volunteered with the St. Vincent de Paul meal program on 10th and Madison for the past 25 years," he said. "We recently linked up with St. Matthew Parish in Oak Creek to provide more manpower to help the organization. The people are so grateful for anything we can do to help."

It's all about Catholics Helping Catholics

It's all about 'Catholics helping Catholics'

Catholic Family Life Insurance celebrates 140 years

By Karen Mahoney
Special to your Catholic Herald

MILWAUKEE - When an organization such as Catholic Family Life Insurance (CFLI) celebrates 140 years, rather than wait until its 150th, it must be for a good reason.

According to Joe Gadbois, vice president of corporate marketing at Catholic Family Life Insurance, the reason is simply excitement.

"We just couldn't wait to tell the CFLI story at the 150th," he said. "There was no real reason except that with all the difficulties going on and corporate failures that people needed a good story, one of success from an organization that never lost sight of its mission and vision."

Founded in 1868, Catholic Family Life Insurance is the oldest Catholic fraternal benefit society in the United States; its origins are attributed to the late Bishop John Martin Henni, the first bishop of Milwaukee.

With immigration at its peak in Milwaukee, Bishop Henni built churches, secured priests, fought bigotry, and initiated works of charity. Not long after his arrival, he noticed ethnic division among several groups of Catholic immigrants. Concerned about their spiritual welfare, he raised funds and founded Saint Francis Seminary in 1856 to educate and provide more priests for the area.

For 37 years, Bishop Henni's mission was to combine spiritual and earthly guidance to shape the Milwaukee Diocese. Among his many accomplishments was setting the foundations for CFLI.

Civil War brought hardships

While the Civil War ended in 1865, the suffering and financial hardships did not. Nationally, epidemics of small pox and cholera left millions dead. In Milwaukee, thousands of men died leaving helpless widows and orphans on their own.

Insurance was expensive for the average family. A $1,000 life insurance benefit cost nearly one third of a family's annual income.

This was unacceptable to Bishop Henni who arranged a meeting of 21 men from Milwaukee's seven benevolent societies, and formed the "Family Protective Association" - changed to Catholic Family Life in 1949 - on Aug. 16, 1868.

Society offered protection to men, 18 to 45

This group of men merged the philosophy of fraternalism with life insurance and formed CFLI on the principle of brotherhood and the belief that each individual has an obligation to assist his or her neighbors. Owned and operated by Catholics for Catholics, the society offered low-cost protection to men ages 18 to 45.

As first president, John Traudt established objectives for the society:

•Band Catholics together •Offer social and fraternal activities •Extend benevolent assistance to those in need •Educate and develop loyalty and love for the United States •Provide spiritual benefits for members •Establish a financially sound mutual benefit insurance society •For just $1.50 per quarter, the premium provided a $350 death benefit per member.

Similar to other fraternal organizations, CFLI is structured differently than traditional commercial insurance companies: •Members own the

not-for-profit organization •A board of directors is elected by the delegates and chosen from the membership, to represent Catholic Family Life •Members of local branches or councils share in group activities •It provides life insurance and other fraternal benefits. By 1890, a separate women's Death Benefit Fund was established to include women as members of the fraternal society. Just $1 per quarter would provide women with a $300 death benefit.

Magazine introduced in 1905

Catholic Family Life grew steadily and by 1905 introduced the society's magazine, "The Family Friend," written in German until 1916.

With the onset of World War I, CFLI not only pledged to pray for their U.S Military forces, but also backed the government by investing $10,000 in Liberty Bonds.

After substantial increase in membership, officers moved the home office from First and Wisconsin to Third and State streets in 1926. The society's assets by 1927 topped $638,565.

Despite nationwide financial hardship during the Great Depression, CFLI's growth did not slow, thanks to the dedication toward its members. The juvenile department added a guaranteed convertible insurance program for children under 16, at which time they were transferred to the adult class without medical examination.

A July 1932 article written by CFLI president Otto Seifriz stated, "During this present depression almost everything has decreased in value, mercantile business, farms, etc., except life insurance. Everyone who owns property or business is poorer now than before the depression set in. But your possessions, as represented in life insurance, are still the same and you are as rich today as before."

World War II overshadowed 75th anniversary

The era of World War II cast a dim light on CFLI's 75th anniversary. While the society was still strong, members opted to forgo any celebration in lieu of a Pontifical High Mass celebrated at St. Joseph Church in Milwaukee.

In an effort to continue with industry trends, CFLI offered health and accident insurance in 1944, the first Catholic insurance organization to offer such a program. The plan featured a disability policy for the father, and a hospitalization and medical plan for the family.

Continued growth led to a third location, a three story office building at 726 N. Water St.

Camping, volunteering, tuition assistance added

In addition to introducing financial products, CFLI initiated programs such as family camping, children's camping, tuition assistance, and volunteer programs. In 1980, members donated clothing, household goods, money and sweat to renovate a home for an 11-member Laotian refugee family.

Expanding CFLI's mission facilitated a need for a larger home office, and the society moved to its current location in Shorewood where it could continue to grow in a unique environment of faith and work.

To further demonstrate its focus on building the Body of Christ, CFLI established a 501c3 education trust fun called the Catholic Family Life Education Foundation in 1999. The foundation provides aid for parish religious education programs as well as grants to seminarians and those studying for the diaconate and religious orders.

CFLI through wars, depression, recessions

With assets exceeding $276 million and $1.4 billion of life insurance in force, Catholic Family has withstood the test of time, Gadbois said.

"Catholic Family has been around through wars, depressions, recessions, changes in lifestyles and the like, but we are still here providing volunteer opportunities for Catholics and their families," he said. "We offer wholesome, family-friendly events and activities that have withstood the test of time."

President and CEO Daniel Lloyd acknowledged that while families have changed, the need for financial security and for helping others has not changed.

"CFLI has remained true to our founding mission to offer financial security to families while providing programs and benefits that enhance their Catholic faith and that respond to their Christian call to service through volunteer outreach," he said. "Catholics need a place to be Catholic that complements their parish experience and we offer that at Catholic Family through our all-volunteer, member-led chapters that, in 2008 alone, raised for Catholic parishes and schools as well as communities nearly $1.2 million."

While many corporations offer opportunities for volunteerism, the opportunities to share time, talent and treasure within the framework of a fraternal benefit society such as CFLI are unique, according to Lloyd.

"Fraternal benefit societies encourage and fund programs that encourage their members, in effect, their customers, to become the service arm and volunteer voice of the organization in the community," he said. "As a Catholic-based organization, we are able to place God and our guiding Catholic principles at the very heart of our organization."

7,000 members in Milwaukee Archdiocese

With 48,000 members nationwide, and 7,000 in the Milwaukee Archdiocese, CFLI members logged 135,000 volunteer hours in 2008. Those hours, Lloyd said, if compared to the independent sector current volunteer hourly rate of $19.51, would equal $2.63 million. Additionally, since 1994, member-led chapters raised in excess of $7.9 million for a variety of causes, including 60-65 percent solely Catholic causes. Of that amount, $3.2 million has gone to support Catholic education.

"In these difficult economic times, a 140-year old organization that has withstood the test of time and remained true to its founding becomes even more relevant for families seeking security that is guaranteed, as well as wholesome family activities that help bring generations closer together," he said.

Since its inception, CFLI has had a unique place in the lives of Catholics and their families. The company continues its commitment to making sure families remain financially secure, while providing a variety of programs to meet the social, educational, and religious needs of its members.

"To answer the question, 'Why Catholic Family?' is to probe the very heart of what makes us different," said Gadbois. "In other words, why satisfy only a person's finances when you can enrich all of life's needs."

While the name changed over the years, Bishop Henni's vision of "Catholics helping Catholics" will always remain.

"CFLI has made sure that we enrich all aspects of what makes life worth living," said Gadbois. "With the gift of financial security as well as the gifts of fellowship, faith and family."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

pictures of Kelly's visit home last week

We had such a good time when Kelly visited last week--was fun going to lunch, yarn shops, etc!